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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 18/09/2020

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (52 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Dear BIS community,

It is my pleasure to share with you this week’s Secondary Campus Update. Part of our role in educating our young people is to prepare them for the independence of adulthood. This independence is the freedom to make their own choices in life, choices that will shape their experiences enable them to lead fruitful lives and make a positive contribution to the world. As parents and as teachers we shape this gradually and as they move through their educational journey,  our students at BIS are exposed to gradually increasing freedoms and choices and gain insights, skills and empowerment in the process. 

This time of the school year is when our Year 9 and Year 11 students begin the process of decision making in choosing the subjects that will form their IGCSE and IBDP Pathways respectively, and our Year 13 students submit their applications to universities around the world. 

At BIS these Year 9 and Year 11 choices are known as options and it is interesting to know that the origin of that word is the Latin ‘optare’ meaning  “the freedom to choose” and students and families should keep this idea of freedom in mind. IGCSE and IB courses offer a broad curriculum that allows students to maintain a balance of subjects with breadth and depth, allowing BIS students to cultivate existing strengths in addition to exploring new areas. 

I am incredibly proud of the support and guidance our students receive from our Academic & Welfare & Guidance teams, which combined with your support and our students’ support for each other leads to our students flourishing in each stage of their journey. 

Thank you to all the parents who participated in this week’s information and options webinars, if you were unable to attend then don’t worry - you can access recordings of each below- and if you have any questions - our teams are here to support you. Please get in touch. It is important that our students are empowered to make their own decisions about their own futures, but they do so with the informed support and partnership between home and school.

Whilst support at significant moments of decision is important - it is also guidance on the small decisions that our young people make each day that form a large part of what we do. A key way we help everyone in our community make positive choices is by having a clear set of community expectations that we all sign up to.  Written by our students for our students- these values underpin daily life on the secondary campus. We feel it is important that as adults, we also live these values so they are our community values. Included in each student journal, and this week’s update - I encourage you to refer to these values in the conversations you have at home as you guide your sons and daughters through this journey to independence. 

Lastly, I would like to close by  thanking all our wonderful BIS community- teachers, students and parents in advance for your contribution to this year’s International Day on Friday 9th October.  It was wonderful to see so many parents attend our first country representatives’ planning meeting on Wednesday and share their ideas about how we bring the colour, fun and energy of a BIS International Day to 2020. We would like every country in the BIS Community  to be involved in this wonderful event, find out more information on how you can be involved below.

My thanks to all the teachers, students and parents who have contributed to another great week at BIS, 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Sean O’Neil

Overview of the week’s activities

Catch up on our Parent Webinars


BIS_Parent Webinars


If you missed one of this week's Information webinars or would like to watch again click on the links below:


Year 12 - Welcome to IBDP Information Webinar inc. Expeditions 

Year 10 - Information Webinar Including Expeditions 

Year 9 - Options Webinar for Parents and Students   


All Year Groups - Report Webinar: 


IGCSE Option Process Underway


Amy Murphy Deputy head, Curriculum & Learning

The Options Process for Year 9 began formally this week, starting with the Information Webinar for parents and students. The principles behind the process, the myriad ways in which we support and guide our students through selecting an options pathway which is balanced, varied and appropriate, and some of the key differences in the subjects available were just some of the points which were explored during the course of the webinar: parents and students also had the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the information sharing session. This was complemented by the Student Subject Fayre at lunchtime on Thursday, where Heads of Department, subject teachers and IGCSE students were available to support and answer any questions that the students had. 


Moving forwards, students will be sent an email on Monday with login details to enter their choices online: this is the start of the curriculum planning process for the following academic year, as the students’ choices play a central role in shaping the number of classes we offer. This doesn’t mean that students cannot change their mind: of course, students mature, gather more information, and sometimes have a change of heart. We understand this and will always listen and do our best to accommodate any changes that students wish to make.


If you have any questions about any aspects of the process, please consult the Options Handbook or contact us at school: we will be happy to help you and your son or daughter, however we can.


Reporting and PTSC Schedule 2020-21



In follow up to our Secondary Reporting and PTSC Webinar last week, we would like to share the Reporting and PTSC schedule for 2020-2021 for all year groups.  


A recording of the webinar is available here – if you were unable to attend, we would encourage you to watch on the link provided and to contact our Assistant Head Teachers Lee Falconer or Matthew Lambert with any questions or feedback you may have. 


Year 7 

  • Online PTSC - Monday 5th October 2020 15:15-18:15

  • Short report published on iSAMS - Monday 7th December 2020

Year 8

  • Comment report published on iSAMS - Monday 7th December 2020

Year 9

  • Short report published on iSAMS - Thursday 12th November

  • PTSC - Monday 23rd November

Year 10

  • Short report published on iSAMS - Thursday 12th November

  • PTSC - Monday 7th December

Year 11

  • Comment report published on iSAMS - Monday 7th December 2020

Year 12

  • Short report published on iSAMS - Tuesday 10th November

  • PTSC - Wednesday 3rd December

Year 13

  • Comment report published on iSAMS - Tuesday 10th November



BIS Student Values

 A key way we help everyone in our community make positive choices is by having a clear set of community expectations that we all sign up to.  Written by our students for our students- these values underpin daily life on the secondary campus. We feel it is important that as adults, we also live these values so they are our community values. Please use these as a guide in conversations you have at home to support your child’s learning.



IGCSE ART : Thao Dien Walking Tour


BIS IGCSE ART : Thao Dien Walking Tour


Janet Williams - Head of Art

Our new Year 10 IGCSE Art students explored the hidden realms of Thao Dien last week in search of inspiration for their “Life in Vietnam Art and Design”  unit. Totally undaunted by the heat, the noise and the scooters, our young artists donned their “artists goggles” and collected a plethora of sketches, colour studies and photographs from which to develop their theme.


For some it was the market stalls of vibrant colours and live fish which caught their eye. For others it was the textural contrasts of man made and nature vying for every space around us, or the figures and families gathered at food stalls . Everyone gained a huge amount of experience and confidence in just a few hours capturing the amazing variety of life we have just here on our doorsteps in Thao Dien 


It takes a brave student to examine our world through the lens of a camera or sit and sketch on the road side, especially when surrounded by curious and admiring locals. We were incredibly impressed by their diligence and focus!

 We look forward to their developed drawings and paintings  back in the Art studios in the coming weeks.


Tutu Nguyen - Year 10 Art Student gives her thoughts

“4 whole hours of grueling walking under the hottest sun in millenia, to collect pictures of the wildlife, the scenery, the cityscape, and most importantly… the FISH of Thao Dien market stalls. Stopping every once in a while only to do more Art (in the form of sketching). Throughout this journey, our brave adventurers learnt about the true beauty of Vietnamese city life through the eyes of an artist”.


Teachers Book Reviews - Read A New Book Month

‘Reading books that we know we’ll like is a wonderful way to escape the stresses of daily life. But sometimes a new type of book allows us to see the world in a different way.’ (Worldbook, 2020)

Listen in to our latest teacher recommendations of their favourite books to inspire your reading choices this week.

They can be found at Soundcloud BIS HCMC - Read a New Book Month 2020.


This week’s book reviews

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad read by Dr Finnigan

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, read by Mr McDevitt

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, read by Ms Archer

The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini, read by Mr Morgan



Alice’s IB Story


Alice graduated from The British International School, Ho Chi Minh City with a perfect score of 45 in her IB Diploma, matched by less than 0.1% of students worldwide in 2020.

Watch the full interview video and read some of the highlights of Alice’s IBDP Success Story.


Be involved

Secondary PTG Update


Another productive meeting for PTG this week. We welcomed new members and had an update on Wellbeing from Robbie Alexander.  In keeping with Covid restrictions PTG are making plans for our new look Christmas Festival.  

It is great to see even more new faces on the PTG Committee this year as we continue to grow and it looks like it will be another great year for the PTG activities.

A reminder about International Day and Country Rep sign up.  There are many ways to participate, from food stalls, activities, cultural performances or a recipe for our International Day Cookbook.  If you would like to be involved please follow the link here or contact Katie Walsh for more information.  

Our next PTG meeting is on Tuesday 29th September at 1pm on the Secondary Campus. If you would like to participate or have any questions please email us at bisptgap2@gmail.com



Mel Rowe

PTG Chairperson


Thao Dien Clean Up - Saturday 19th September


On Saturday 19th September BIS HCMC will once again be cleaning up Thao Dien as part of World CleanUp Day! This is our third annual event and is a highlight of our calendar, where all members of the community do their bit to help keep our part of the world tidy.  We are happy to say that all the spaces are filled.

For those who have already signed up see you tomorrow, a few reminders...

Safety first!

To follow social distancing protocols and ensure the safety of everyone in our community we ask that you follow these safety guidelines:

  • Wear a mask at all times

  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and carry a water bottle, and stop if you feel unwell

  • Wear closed shoes or trainers

  • Only pick up rubbish with tongs and not your hands

  • Avoid collecting glass or sharp objects

  • Be careful of uneven ground, be aware of traffic in the area, and stay away from stray animals

  • Be kind to those who are curious about what you are doing

We look forward to seeing which BIS House has the most participation next weekend!

Lauren Binnington

Deputy Head Teacher

Regional UNICEF Lead for South East Asia and the Middle East


Battle of the Bands - Thursday 1st October 


Opening the musical events for the year is the much anticipated Battle of the Bands.  This year the invitation to attend will be open to all students and staff.  We are excited that this year there will be a  live stream the show for all parents who wish to watch.  More details to follow.

For students, tickets can be collected from the Student Centre or Reception.


Event details

Date: Thursday 1st October

Time: 7pm

Location: Secondary Auditorium 


International Day 2020 - Friday 9th October


After a very successful parent Planning Meeting this week, preparations are beginning in earnest for the International Day Food Court and Cultural Activities.  

If you would like to know more, please contact Katie Walsh, our Secondary Receptionist and Parent Liaison, who will be happy to share how you can be involved or put you in contact with other parents from your home country who are taking part.


Dates for your Diary

News & Events

Saturday 19th September World CleanUp Day, Thao Dien

Monday 21st October Peace One Day

Thursday 24th September Year 11 Options webinar for parents and students, virtual event, 4.15 to 5pm

Monday 28th September to Friday 2nd October Dyslexia Awareness Week (SISN)

Thursday 1st October Battle of the Bands, Secondary Auditorium, students only

Thursday 1st October Geography Photography Competition Launch

Friday 9th October International Day, Secondary Campus

Monday 12th to Friday 16th October Half Term Break





Health & Safety Update: Medical Information form

As part of our commitment to student wellbeing-  each year, we ask you  to review the Medical Information that we hold about your child(ren). 

Your child(ren) will be bringing a Medical Information Form home with them over the course of the next few days.  The form will have details of the information currently held by the school relating to your child. Please check the details carefully before returning the form to your child’s form tutor.


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus